Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They Made it!!!

We made it!  Our first two days were wonderful light wind sailing days, skimming over intense azure seas with the full moon coming on. Unfortunately our wind died and we had to motor the last two days. In spite of Perkins' continual groaning (bless his soul), we glided across the silver blue ocean as it got more and more glassy and last night's full moon helped ghost us along the shores of Isla San Cristobal, our first stop in the Galapagos. WE MADE IT !!!! A glorious sunrise welcomed us as we drifted outside of the town and soon we made our way into the harbor with A Cappella.

The water is unbelievably clear and deep blue and our first dive on our new adventure was incredibly refreshing. YAHOO!!! We get to jump from Sidewinder into pristine water anytime!  Bolivar, our agent, came out to greet us and soon came back with the officials who checked us in. Right now, we are waiting for him to help us out with immigration problems which I will explain when I know more. Kelita and Robert, whom we met last year in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, found us at the internet cafe and we look forward to surfing with them and having some fun. Savannah is on her way from Panama, so it looks like we will even have more palymates when they arrive. Lots to see and do on this isla and we are basking in the idea of finally having time to frolic. We are already enjoying it all. - Suzi                                       

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sail Mail: Day 2

We are in the second full day of sailing to the Galapagos and are decompressing after months of nonstop working on problems. PHEW!!!! We left Puerto Lucia Yacht Club around 5:30 p.m. Thursday and motored away into the surreal sunset. The last two days in the marina were insane, solving thru hull problems (David dove in icky oily water many times), reprovisioning with last minute items and meat to be frozen, going up the mast to install the new windex, washing the boat down, testing the new dinghy engine, and running out of time to say good-bye to wonderful people who took great care of us. I gave Squeak (the cat) a squeeze farewell but I regret not having a chance to appropriately give Alex a good-bye hug and thank you; it was time to leave, it was his day off (although he came by the last morning to see what he could do to help us), and he was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, Marisol made her way down to the dock and we shared hugs and tears. David and I will miss the warmth of the wonderful people who served us well and our friends who made our stay in Ecuador special. We fueled, waved adios to all the workers who helped us on Sidewinder, and off we went. We are sailing with gentle winds (we could use a bit more but not too much!), and it is very peaceful. We should be in the Galapagos in two days. We send our love to all and will write when we get to our first isla, San Cristobal.
Love, David and Suzi

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I spoke to Suzi via Skype last night. David has been feeling a bit under the weather, but assuming that he is sufficiently recovered, they are planning to depart Ecuador, heading due west for the Galapagos, around noon today. The trip should last approximately four days (depending on wind conditions), and it will probably take them a couple of days to settle in on Isla Isabella and find an internet cafe, so don't worry if you don't hear anything for a week or so. Suzi promised to contact me when they arrived to let us know that they made it safely; I will post that information as soon as I receive it. They plan to explore the Galapagos for roughly three weeks before departing for the South Pacific, hopefully in the company of another boat. Please visualize Sidewinder at sea, her sails full! Check out the Galapagos on GoogleEarth: looks fabulous. I'm a tinch jealous: you?
Fondly, Kris (blog mistress and confirmed landlubber)

Monday, March 22, 2010


What an intense day! Getting ready for the splash increases the intensity of the anticipation. Will she float? Will the engine be fine? Will the prop work and allow us to back out of the travel lift? Will the refrigeration start working again? What will the docking be like with such a strong surge?

Well, yes, we were able to get her out of the sling and take her on a test run with the new prop. You can feel the strenghth of the new prop with a little more vibration at the helm, but it does go faster and there seems to be more control at the helm when in reverse, although we were a bit disappointed with the prop wash to the port side, like our other prop.

The surge inside the marina is crazy and we are rocking and rolling, tied up to all kinds of cleats and bouys, with the hope that the lines last for the next three days while we get the refrigeration system going. Right now both of us are a bit depressed because our refrigeration system will not allow enough raw water into the thru hull to make her work. YIKES ! Can't we just have it easy one day?! Still hoping to get out of here Thursday. Love to all, Suzi and David

Almost Launch Day

Today is a huge day! It will be the true test for the brand new prop, the refrigeration/ freezer must begin to work being cooled by raw water, and the water maker will come out of pickling state. This morning the clean sails will go back on, and we do the last of the hull buffing. YAY! We will take pics of Sidewinder being put into the water, and we will go out for a mini trial run. Meanwhile, here are the photos of the last adventure up the coast by hours of bus rides to Mantanita, our rendezvous with Cornelia and Ed in Bahia de Carraques, and the huge task of old prop/ new prop assemblage.  Progress is upon us and life is good!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

David, Smiling

Well, after many bangs with my head the wall finally came tumbling down yesterday. Yes, the new prop is installed and appears to be working just fine. The in-water test will come tomorrow afternoon when we finally get back in the water and are able to use it. Then I will be able to determine if all the hassle, all the additional expense and emotional trauma were worth it! I had troubles right to the end as it took me half the day to remove the old prop body from the shaft. I had put the old one on thinking there was no way the new part I needed to install the new prop would arrive here in time and we had to get out of here. But it did, so the first order of the day yesterday morning was to remove the prop, and without going into detail, believe me when I say it was a genuine BITCH!!! But after trying the third different type of puller and heating it big time with my torch, it finally popped (and I do mean POPPED!) off. After that it was just following directions (yes, I actually read the directions), and it is now there at the end of our shaft looking pretty as hell and being admired by all who walk by. Now if only it works right and doesn´t fall off somewhere between here and the Galapagos.

The next couple of days will be full of preparations for the trip and a few more last minute small projects on Sidewinder, but most of that can be done while we are in the water waiting to check out of this harbor on Thursday. I can´t wait to get back into the water!!!

We´ll be in touch- 
See ya,  David

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The prop part made it into Ed's hands this morning and we are on our way, making our way norte in an hour or two. Our plan is to meet up with them in Bahia tomorrow afternoon and we'll be home some time on Friday.  We are sooo stoked and feel so fortunate! I will email from there if we have time; otherwise, we will touch base when we return to Sidewinder.

The next day:
Had a great afternoon and evening in Mantanita, went swimming in the wonderful ocean, enjoyed the beach, had great Thai food at an exotic little restaurant, met some wonderful people from Argentina, and now we are having breakfast, ready to hop onto the bus for the next part of our journey. Life is great!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Waiting

Waiting patiently has become the theme of life these days. Luckily we have made some great friends, both international cruiser amigos and Ecuadorian, and we have been treated royally. The following pictures are just a few of the images from this last week's events, some of them keeping us waiting patiently with visions of being back in the water cruising soon.

Since we discovered that the shaft housing and gear was wrong, we put the old prop back on Sidwinder, and began patching holes on the upper part of the hull, re-painted the anchor chain, received a brand new 15HP Yamaha engine for Worm delivered by mi amiga mia, Marisol, and watched our Spaniard friends put Gregal back into the water and take off for the Marquesas, with the dream of some day seeing them in the South Pacific.

Hopefully, through the use of UPS Express mail service, the integral internal prop gear has been sent by the Australian company who made the original error, and it will arrive in Miami at 8:00 A.M. so that our cruising friend, Ed, can bring it back with him to Ecuador tomorrow afternoon. After confirmation tomorrow morning, David and I will grab a taxi to La Libertad, catch a bus north to Mantanita, find a wonderful little cabana on the beach, check out the waves and ride a few, eat a yummy dinner, enjoy our evening, and continue our travels up the coast to Bahia de Car'aquez where we will find Ed and Cornelia on their yacht, Accapella. Our new 1" shaft housing and gear, along with a new lock for our new dinghy engine, will be handed over in exchange for the funds owed, and we will find our way back to Sidewinder by bus, about a 5 hour trip. Friday or Saturday, the old prop will again be removed and the shiny new one will slip like a glove onto Sidewinder's shaft. We hope to be back in the water Sunday or Monday so that we can test out all of the systems and be ready to sail Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

It is a good thing that we patiently waited many hours in Guayaquil for our 30 day visa extension, because our old visa expired last Sunday. We hope to meet Ed and Cornelia in the Galapagos and all continue our dream journeys. We are lucky to be alive and well and hope that all of you feel the same. I do believe that patience is a virtue!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stuck in Ecuador

Another intense week of these projects and I think I might melt. Aligning the shaft properly, taking the strut on and off until it was fine-tuned, meant, for me, going "into the sweat hole (hull)" from the back lazaret wearing my trusty headlamp and contorting the bod into a little ball with socket and wrench in hand while communicating by radio with David below. Inside it is dark and hot. It seemed like I did that a million times on Wednesday, but I think it was only 6 or 7 times.

In between those times, I sanded and painted the patches we have left to do on the hull and washed the interior cushion covers. Seems like I have never worked so hard in my life, and I know that David feels the same way.  I am so impressed with David`s amazing ability to solve all of these detailed problems with such non-stop tenacity, aligning the shaft with the engine, etc. It took him all day, grinding, measuring, shaking his head, more grinding, fitting, grunting and growling through sunset to finally finish.  Phew!  He finished the second coat of painting in the dark while I made him dinner.  Cold beers are always a sweet end of the work day treat; thank goodness we have the little refrigerator that was given to us by the couple who own Rachel II. 

We caught a ride with Marisol into Guayaquil yesterday, had our teeth cleaned by her dentist (a perfect experience I might add), and bought a brand new Yamaha 15 HP engine for the dinghy, which will be delivered tomorrow. Marisol was so helpful when it came time to getting our VISA okayed; we must have waited for 2 hours for the process to go through. I did get a chance to speak Spanish most of the day and it will be a long-awaited treat to be able to go with friends exploring without having to worry about power and efficiency. 

Today was the "install the new prop" day and a short while ago, we discovered that the new $2800 prop is the wrong size and will not work!  PHEW!  Each day seems to bring some kind of glitch and I am not sure what our next move is. Martec is not open on Friday, but I will try to email them hoping someone is in the office catching up on paperwork. I must get back to the boat to work on more stuff and to try to figure out our next move.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Almost Ready!

We just finished cocktails celebrating the last coat of anti-foul paint, the end of the paint brushes and rollers full of blue, and the arrival of our new strut, which appears to be perfect. YAHOO!  Marisol is a little studette, full of courage and tenacity, and because of her, all of our stuff finally was released by customs at a reasonable price to be paid soon.  We ended the day by riding our bikes into La Libertad, going from store to store, gathering metal for new surfboard brackets and screws for our new thru hulls and screens which mount on the outside, giving us better protection against the debris which can get sucked into the boat.

Upon return, we rode over to the gym/pool area, played some energetic competitive pingpong, went for a swim, took showers with Yacht Club supplied towels, and rode back during sunset with a cool breeze cooling us down.  Not too shabby of a life for living "on the hard."  Life could be so much harder!   Sidewinder will be brought back to a sense of normalcy tomorrow; the plumbing will be completed, the inside of her will be cleaned with vinegar and lemon oil, and all the tool boxes will be put away in whatever way David feels is best at the moment. The last major hurdle will be the installation of the new strut and prop. We are so looking forward to getting back onto the water and onward with our adventure, with our new extended visas, but we will truly miss the facilities (the likes of which we won't see again until New Zealand), the special people we have met, and, of course, the pussy cat friends (too bad David just can't relate).  We hope all is well at home. Love to all.